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Franklin Graham, Dropped by Venues, Will Proceed With U.K. Tour

Franklin Graham, Dropped by Venues, Will Proceed With U.K. Tour

A planned tour of Britain by the American evangelist Franklin Graham, an outspoken social conservative and a vocal supporter of President Trump, will move forward despite venues’ removing him from their calendars over concerns about his past statements, according to organizers.

The tour, a series of lectures and concerts that aim to teach biblical principles and tips on spreading Christian Gospel, is scheduled to begin on May 30 in Glasgow before making stops in Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham and elsewhere. But late last month, a convention center in Liverpool announced that it would no longer be hosting Mr. Graham after being made aware of statements it viewed as “incompatible” with its values.

“In light of this we can no longer reconcile the balance between freedom of speech and the divisive impact this event is having in our city,” the venue, ACC Liverpool, said in a statement.

Over the next days, other venues across the country made similar announcements. In Milton Keynes, for instance, the Marshall Arena said it had canceled its own Graham event over concerns that it could “lead to a breach of the peace.” Now, no date on the tour’s website has a designated venue, and all the locations are listed as “TBA.”

As venues began to remove Mr. Graham from their schedules, a statement appeared on the tour website assuring supporters that it would move forward. “We are still finalizing where the Graham Tour will be held, but we want to be clear that the initiative and all associated training courses will take place on the same dates as originally planned,” it said.

On Wednesday, Utilita Arena in Newcastle became the last venue to pull Mr. Graham’s event from its calendar, several news outlets reported. The arena did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

A petition urging Utilita Arena to cancel Mr. Graham’s event had received more than 5,000 signatures in a week. Ste Dunn, the chairman of Northern Pride, the L.G.B.T. charity that created the petition and that organizes Newcastle’s annual pride festival, said Mr. Graham’s views were “wholly inconsistent with our city.”

While Mr. Graham did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday, he released a lengthy statement on Jan. 27 addressed to Britain’s L.G.B.T.Q. community.

“I’m not coming to the U.K. to speak against anybody, I’m coming to speak for everybody,” Mr. Graham wrote on Facebook. “The Gospel is inclusive. I’m not coming out of hate, I’m coming out of love.”

Although Mr. Graham — the elder son of the Rev. Billy Graham, who preached to millions in stadium events called crusades and served as a spiritual guide to several presidents — invited L.G.B.T.Q. people to participate in the tour, he reaffirmed his belief that homosexuality was a sin.

In April, Mr. Graham was criticized for a series of tweets in which he said the Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s homosexuality was “something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized.”

Mr. Graham, who was widely criticized for labeling Islam a “very wicked and evil religion” after the Sept. 11 attacks, has not been shy about voicing his support for Mr. Trump, including after the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017; throughout crackdowns on immigrants and refugees; during the Stormy Daniels scandal; and after the president’s slur against Haiti and Africa.


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Chicago prosecutor who dropped charges against Jussie Smollett expunges more than 1,000 marijuana convictions

Chicago prosecutor who dropped charges against Jussie Smollett expunges more than 1,000 marijuana convictions Kim Foxx, the Cook County state attorney who dismissed charges against Jussie Smollett earlier this year, filed motions Wednesday to expunge more than 1,000 marijuana convictions, … read more